Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls Rhythm Room Monday, October 10, 2011
A sold-out, super energetic Monday night show is somewhat of a rarity in Phoenix (or, you know, anywhere). British punk/folkie Frank Turner had no problem selling out Rhythm Room as he has done for most of his U.S. tour in support of his fourth album, England Keep My Bones. In our recent interview with Turner, he attributed his rapidly expanding fan-base to support tours with well-known punk bands. Last night was a sampling of all the bands he mentioned -- raucous Social Distortion greasers sang along next to Flogging Molly beer slammers as Gaslight Anthem fans jumped around like crazy.
Frank Turner shared the stage with a four-piece backing band called The Sleeping Souls, which gave his songs a punk rock vibe. The band wasted no time and kicked off the evening with the first track off England Keep My Bones, "Eulogy." To my surprise, the majority of the crowd was singing along. The album was released last June, yet the audience embraced it as if they had been listening to it for years.
Turner apologized for being sick and for canceling his Albuquerque tour date. He said his recovery was a result of American doctors giving him drugs. "I feel like the six million dollar man, and you guys bought all the tickets. You'll make my job easier if you sing along," he said, launching into "I Knew Prufrock Before He Was Famous." It didn't sound like Turner had any vocal strain, but then again, he always had a chorus of people readily singing along. The Sleeping Souls left the stage for Turner to perform "English Curse" and "Dan's Song" solo. He said it's odd to play in countries England has gone to war with, but there's probably no hard feelings regarding the War of 1812. With "English Curse," he compared the events that happened in The New Forest over 900 years ago to Eight Mile. He sang a cappella alongside a very enthusiastic crowd, then picked up his guitar for "Dan's Song." He used to invite a fan on stage to play harmonica, but he lost it and it was getting pretty gross anyway, so he urged fans to play air harmonica with any noise they could manage.
Skip to 1:55 if you're okay with missing out on entertaining stage banter.
He devoted "Glory Hallelujah" to Billie Holiday, and I've never seen an audience so enthusiastic to shout "So clap your hands together, there is no God, no heaven and no hell." This was the start of four back to back fast-paced crowd pleasers: "Long Live the Queen," "The Road," and Queen's "Somebody to Love." The band did the cover justice. Turner had the correct range and even hit a high note at the end of the song.
The audience begged for an encore and Turner promptly returned to perform "The Ballad of Me and My Friends" by himself. He expressed his concerns about going on the Jimmy Kimmel show tomorrow (tonight, as you're reading this). "I hope Jimmy K plays harmonica. I heard he doesn't, but fuck that, I'm very persuasive," he said, encouraging fans to help him sing the last two songs.
The Sleeping Souls joined him mid-song and stuck around for "Photosynthesis," which had the best reaction of the evening. Turner introduced the band, sound guy, and merch girl, then encouraged everyone in the room to sing the chorus for perform a magic trick like "one giant, multi-limbed David Copperfield" because music is supposed to be a grand, transcendental force. It worked, and Turner showed us just how fun live a live show can be.
Arizona boys at heart, (though half the band lives in Chicago right now), Andrew Jackson Jihad performed before Turner. Bassist Ben Gallaty said the band was going to play "some songs you probably know" and guitarist Sean Bonnette encouraged the crowd to sing along if they knew the words. AJJ kicked things off with "Brave as a Noun" and "Survival Song" back to back with a few amusing lyrical substitutions. The band played a couple songs off their latest album, Knife Man, and plenty of old material. The duo expressed homesickness, and Bonnette said he plans on moving back to Phoenix once "a loved one finishes school in June."
Between Eric Clapton jokes and cheery songs about murders and rapists, it was nearly impossible not to smile and dance along to AJJ's set.
One-man band Into It. Over It. also put on a good show. Evan Weiss' vocals would lend well to a pop punk band.
Andrew Jackson Jihad Setlist 1. Brave as a Noun 2. Survival Song 3. Love in the Time of Human Papillomavirus 4. Bad Bad Things 5. People II: The Reckoning 6. Love Will Fuck Us Apart 7. Sense, Sensibility 8. Jesus Saves 9. People II 2: Still Peoplin'? 10. Olde(y) Time(y) 11. Dog 12. Growing Up 13. Lady Liberty 14. Rejoice 15. No More Tears 16. Little Prince
Frank Turner Setlist 1. Eulogy 2. Try This At Home 3. I Still Believe 4. One Foot Before The Other 5. I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous 6. Peggy Sang The Blues 7. I Am Disappeared 8. Love Ire & Song 9. English Curse 10. Dan's Song 11. Sons of Liberty 12. If Ever I Stray 13. Glory Hallelujah 14. Long Live The Queen 15. The Road 16. Somebody To Love (Queen Cover) Encore: 17. The Ballad Of Me And My Friends 18. Photosynthesis
Last Night: Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls at Rhythm Room.
Personal Bias: I've been wanting to see Frank Turner live since I first heard Love, Ire, & Song.
The Crowd: Punks, hipsters, and drinkers.
Overheard in the Crowd: "I'm the only Mexican here!" when AJJ introduced "Lady Liberty."
Random Notebook Dump: I feel like a dwarf standing next to Ben Gallaty.